Had American leaders been willing to study the failures of one of their allies, they might have spared themselves a costly and horrific military blunder. Which ally and which blunder? That would be the French and the disaster now known as the Vietnam War.
In "Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam," Cornell University historian Fredrik Logevall spells out the history of the Vietnam War and demonstrates clearly the ways in which the French colonization of Southeast Asia that began in the late 19th century deeply influenced the Americans’ failures in that region.
Yesterday Logevall was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in History for his work.
Reviewing the book last year, Monitor book critic Jordan Michael Smith called "Embers of War" an "essential work for those seeking to understand the worst foreign-policy adventure in American history." He went on to say that, "Logevall has tapped new resources, including extensive archives in France and what is available in Vietnam. He has a complete grasp of the vast literature on what the Vietnamese call The American War, and even though readers known how the story ends – as with 'The Iliad' – they will be as riveted by the tale as if they were hearing it for the first time."
You can see the Monitor's full review of "The Embers of War" here.